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Top 25 countdown

August 23, 2008|Chris Dufresne

The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time:

No. 6 Missouri

Fastest way to buzz kill a Missouri finger-food fund-raiser over the summer was to mention Oklahoma, Kansas and the Orange Bowl.

If not for Oklahoma, the Missouri (not LSU) Tigers might have hoisted that Bowl Championship Series national title crystal globe/orb/door stop/whatever-it-is.

Missouri lost two games last year -- both to Oklahoma -- and returns a ticked-off top-10 team primed to prove last year's 12-2 season was not a media hoax perpetrated by the Columbia School of Journalism.

Kansas?

What, you fixing for plastic surgery? Missouri, as memory serves, beat Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium, 36-28, yet when it came time to pick major bowl teams, the Orange Bowl selected the Jayhawks to play Virginia Tech in South Florida.

Missouri was relegated to the Eli Whitney (Cotton) Bowl, where it knocked the stuffing out of Arkansas.

It's a new dawn on the prairie, though, and Missouri is locked and loaded at many key positions, starting with quarterback Chase Daniel, who finished fourth in last year's Heisman Trophy balloting.

If only Missouri could get Oklahoma off the schedule . . . OK, it's a done deal!

As football-gods timing would have it, this is the year Missouri (North Division) bypasses Oklahoma (South) on the Big 12 grid, although the schools could meet in the conference title game.

For Missouri to maneuver into BCS position A or B, it needs to navigate a schedule that includes Illinois (meet you in St. Louis on Aug. 30), a trip to Texas on Oct. 18 and the annual border-war, helmet-banger against last year's Orange Bowl champions . . . Kansas.

If Missouri keeps its chin strap on straight, though, and the six-foot Daniel stands tall (as he can) in the pocket, and star receiver Jeremy Maclin doesn't sprain his ankle on a sprinkler, the Tigers could finish No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS standings.

That would earn Missouri an automatic bid to this season's national title game, to be staged in South Florida.

Let the Orange Bowl try to keep the Tigers out of that one.

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The countdown so far:

25. Notre Dame; 24. California; 23. Fresno State; 22. Florida State; 21. Rutgers; 20. Illinois; 19. Penn State; 18. Oregon; 17. Tennessee; 16. Arizona State; 15. Texas Tech; 14. Brigham Young; 13. Wisconsin; 12. Kansas; 11. Auburn; 10. Texas; 9. West Virginia; 8. Clemson; 7. Louisiana State; 6. Missouri.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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